After the last round of negotiations between PSAC and Treasury Board, a review of the Bilingualism Bonus Directive was launched in October. The bargaining agents of the National Joint Council, of which PSAC is a member, have until April 2024 to provide their input.
It is time to update and expand the Bilingualism Bonus Directive. Eligibility for the bilingual allowance has not been updated since 1993, and the amount that bilingual employees receive ($800) has not increased since 1977. Workers in the federal public service work hard to improve their language skills; 45 years without an update is insulting to their time and effort.
PSAC is calling for three main changes:
A significant increase to the allowance. If the current amount were indexed to inflation, the bonus would now be worth more than $3,000 today.
A mechanism to increase the bonus on a yearly basis. As costs rise every year, the bonus should reflect that reality.
If the Official Languages Act (OLA) is updated to include languages other than English and French, for example Indigenous languages, these languages should also be eligible for an allowance.
Bilingualism is a skill that should be encouraged. The employer must find ways to strengthen the OLA, making it easier for members to work in the language of their choice and improve their second language skills.
The OLA designates both English and French as languages of work within the federal public service. If the government wants to have a truly dynamic, diverse, and bilingual institution, it must create an environment where employees are not only able to work in the language of their choice but encouraged to do so.